|Christine Duffy, president and CEO, CLIA, kicks off cruise3sixty conference in Vancouver, BC. // Photo by Susan J. Young|
Approximately 1,300 travel agents gathered for Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) annual cruise3sixty conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver, BC, on Friday.
Here are a few briefs from the early Friday programs:
MSC Cruises USA: Ken Muskat, senior vice president for sales and marketing, MSC Cruises USA (www.msccruisesusa.com) said the line is enhancing its onboard product for MSC Divina as that ship repositions and begins sailing year-round to PortMiami in November. The goal is to create onboard experiences and features that appeal to a North American clientele.
The line will take the space previously occupied by the Tex-Mex restaurant (on a sister Fantasia class ship), and replace that with two dining experiences on MSC Divina. Both will be presented by the line’s partnership with Eataly, which is expanding in North America. The alternative dining venues will be Ristorante Italia and the steakhouse, Manzo Ristorante.
The line will also debut the industry’s first Aqua Cycling at sea, taking spinning to new heights. Aqua bicycles will be placed in the ship's pool. Classes will be led by onboard fitness professionals. The line will also introduce “healthy eats at sea” – light options and also a gluten free option in the main dining room.
New entertainment will include production shows, as well as hands-on activities like pizza making with an Italian chef, Mediterranean cooking lessons, island bands for the Caribbean flair and some cultural programs pierside in certain ports.
Children’s activities will include kids’ bingo, fairytale time and live talent shows.
For the first time, MSC Cruises will also offer a Top 18 exclusive solarium for adults. “It will appeal to the premium guests who likes to feel pampered,” said Muskat.
Top 18 will feature premium deck space, sea views, select spa services, fresh fruit skewers, and lounge beds or relaxation pods. A nominal fee will be charged, but officials said the charge had not been finalized.
Agents might also read our interview conducted earlier this month with Muskat here.
Christine Duffy, CLIA: In her opening remarks to agents at the first General Session, Duffy said, “I am more convinced than ever that people need a professional travel advisor more than ever.
“Technology is just an enabler,” she said, noting that “people need professional travel consultants.”
She added, however, that consumers in general are seeking proof of expertise and meaningful credentials when selecting an agent and booking through that person.
“We aim to make CLIA Certification a globally recognized credential,” Duffy said. She added that it’s akin to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
She also said that in the future, agents will begin to see CLIA coordinating its promotions on a global basis, such as Global Cruise Vacation Week, “so no matter where your clients are they will hear about cruising.”
Check back to www.travelagentcentral.com on Monday for our comprehensive look at cruise3sixty's news, research findings, new programs and cruise industry and agency leadership perspectives.